Grizzlies sweep Seward County tournament
LIBERAL, Kan. – Add another tournament sweep to the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team’s list of accomplishments this season.
The Grizzlies (13-5) defeated all four opponents at the Seward County Community College Invitational Tournament this past weekend in Liberal, Kan. On Friday, Sept. 28, they defeated Seminole (Okla.) State College 25-23, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22 and Frank Phillips College of Borger, Texas, 25-16, 25-10, 23-25, 25-16. Saturday, Sept. 29, the downed Vernon (Texas) College 25-22, 25-15, 26-24 in the semifinals and defeated Seminole State 25-16, 25-18, 25-21 in the finals.
Sophomore outside attacker Taylor Swayzer was named the tournament MVP, freshman middle attacker Torika Baleilekutu received all-tournament team honors, and freshman libero Victoria Williams was named libero of the tournament.
“It was a very good weekend,” Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said. “This was their best outing as a team from start to finish this season. They didn’t let one player’s struggles affect everyone else on the team. They’ve also realized that communication and movement is the key to success, and they’ve really started trusting in those things and in each other. It’s giving them more confidence.”
They’re also beginning to build their own team chemistry, the coach added. “Chemistry is such a huge part of success, and their finding themselves as a group. They’re understanding why it’s important,” she explained.
Overall, the Grizzlies had one of their best weekends of the year. They hit .309 as a team and recorded 190 kills with only 51 errors. “That’s fantastic!,” Wiedemann said. “It’s all about taking good swings. What we’re working on is paying off. We’re letting things play out.”
The coach credits freshman setter Sarah Stretch for the impressive offense. “The reason we’re taking good swings is because Sarah’s putting up good balls for them to swing at,” the coach praised. “She’s not flashy, but she’s taking care of business. She also being more efficient, herself, with the ball, with seven kills on 14 attempts this weekend. She’s trying to be more offensive when she needs to be, but she’s not forcing it. She’s doing everything we need to continue playing well.”
Stretch’s seven kills on 14 attempts with no errors gave her a team leading .500 attacking percentage for the tournament. She also led the team in assists with 182.
Swayzer led the Grizzlies in kills with 50, which she recorded off 115 attempts with 11 errors for an attacking percentage of .339. “Taylor was determined to play well this weekend. She played with so much control and determination. When she plays that way, she makes us better because of the way she sets the tempo of the game,” Wiedemann said.
Other leading hitters for the Grizzlies were freshman outside attacker Helena Peric with 49 kills on 125 attempts with 17 errors for a .256 hitting percentage; sophomore right side attacker Candyce Alexander with 37 kills off 87 attempts with 13 errors for a .276 hitting percentage; Baleilekutu with 26 kills on 60 attempts with two errors for a .400 attacking percentage; and sophomore middle attacker Magda Zietek with 21 kills on 49 attempts with eight errors for a .265 attacking percentage.
“Torika only had two hitting errors and hit .400 for the weekend. That tells you how well she is taking care of the ball,” Wiedemann said. “In addition to being very efficient, she makes our opponents’ blockers commit to her, which opens up our outside hitters.
“Candyce, Magda and Helena all produced well and had few errors. They were extremely solid,” the coach continued. “Helena’s ability to play the whole game is getting better and better. She’s producing points and digging balls. Between her and Taylor, they were digging eight balls per set. Magda had her best tournament so far. She blocked the ball well, especially when we needed a point.”
Peric led the team in digs with 64, followed by Swayzer with 47. Zietek led the team in blocks with 12, including four solo blocks, and Peric led the team in service aces with five and in points earned with 58.5.
“Victoria anchors our defense,” Wiedemann said, pointing to Williams’ 32 digs. “She runs down everything. She takes care of the ball and never lets a ball drop without making an effort, and that makes her teammates want to work hard, too.”
The Grizzlies will meet Seminole State for the fourth time in two weeks at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, in Seminole, Okla. “We beat them in five sets at the Hutchinson tournament, in four Friday and in three Saturday, so our players met the goals they set from one game to the next with Seminole,” Wiedemann said. “But we don’t want to take anything for granted. The girls have seen how Seminole can make you look silly if you’re not talking and moving. We want to continue to improve the way we play the game.”
For more information about the Grizzly Volleyball team, including a copy of the 2012 schedule, visit the team’s website at http://wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/vb/.
Filed Under: Volleyball